We’re All in This Together
by Amanda Machonis, Assistant Director, Twardowski Career Development Center, West Chester University
I found out about EACE’s professional development grant for newcomers to attend the 2018 conference the day before the deadline for applications. Earlier emails had likely slipped through the cracks during the semester, but when I was home at the end of December, I got a reminder. After finding out I was eligible to apply, I completed the questions that afternoon, sent everything in. I was planning to attend the conference anyway, but I held off on registering on the off-chance I would receive the grant.
Just over a month later, I got a congratulatory email stating I had indeed been chosen to receive the grant. I was excited, as were my colleagues when they found out. Most of them had attended EACE conferences in the past and raved about them. I registered and began to eagerly await the end of June.
The first highlight of the conference for me happened the first day. Hearing Jeffrey Selingo kick off the conference was thrilling to me. I read his book “There is Life After College“ just after I graduated with my master’s and was starting my first position at a community college. His concept of Sprinters, Wanderers, and Stragglers resonates with me to this day. The fact that Sprinters are far more likely to have at least one internship in college is not surprising. The ones that need our help more are the Wanderers and Stragglers, who may not have as many connections as Sprinters and need some help knowing their options.
The other part of the conference I really enjoyed was the newcomers’ breakfast on the second day. It was great to connect with colleagues who I may not have met otherwise. Many of us (about 45% of the total attendees) were at the conference for the first time, so the room was full of people and enthusiasm. I was able to chat with someone whose presentation I saw the previous day and an outgoing member of the board of EACE.
Overall, everyone’s passion for the field was heartening to me. Supporting students is vital in our profession, and we should also be supporting each other. At the conference this year, I met many people who could empathize with the challenges of working in higher education, whether their office is housed within student or academic affairs. I hope to continue connecting with those folks because sometimes the helpers need help too. We should work to continue the community formed at the conference.
Amanda Machonis is an Assistant Director in the Twardowski Career Development Center at West Chester University in PA.